Auction Results: The Knowing Eye: Photographs & Photobooks, April 19, 2018 @Swann

The results of the recent sale of photographs and photobooks at Swann were generally softer than usual. While there were plenty of positive surprises in the vernacular photography section, there were fewer than normal in the other sections, and with a Buy-In rate over 30%, there just wasn’t enough extra buyer energy to keep the momentum up. The top outcome was the cover lot Walker Evans image of the River Rouge plant (at just over $57K), but the Total Sale Proceeds feel just below the low end of the aggregate pre-sale estimate range.

The summary statistics are below (all results include the buyer’s premium):

Summary Statistics
Total Lots 328
Pre Sale Low Total Estimate $1193300
Pre Sale High Total Estimate $1768250
Total Lots Sold 221
Total Lots Bought In 107
Buy In % 32.62%
Total Sale Proceeds $1178676

Here is the breakdown, using our typical Low, Mid, and High price range definitions:

Detailed Breakdown
Low Total Lots 302
Low Sold 206
Low Bought In 96
Low Buy In % 31.79%
Total Low Estimate $1186250
Total Low Sold $813726
Mid Total Lots 24
Mid Sold 14
Mid Bought In 10
Mid Buy In % 41.67%
Total Mid Estimate $462000
Total Mid Sold $317450
Total High Lots 2
High Sold 1
High Bought In 1
High Buy In % 50.00%
Total High Estimate $120000
Total High Sold $47500

The top lot by High estimate was tied between two lots: lot 65, Ansel Adams, Winter in Yosemite, c1932, and lot 82, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Premiere at La Scala, Milan, Italy, c1933, both estimated at $40000-60000. The Adams print sold for $47500 (image above, via Swann), while the Eisenstaedt print did not sell. The top outcome of the sale was lot 103, Walker Evans, River Rouge Plant, Detroit, Michigan, 11947, estimated at $15000-25000, sold at $57500 (image above, via Swann).

81.90% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range and there were a total of 13 positive surprises in the sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate). Nine of these lots came in the vernacular imagery section (lot 247 Metropolis – The Movie, lot 251 Warner Brothers Set Ranch, lot 255 Industry – 25 Year Employment, lot 264 Industrial Disaster – Hawks Nest Tunnel Construction, lot 276 Signage, lot 285 NASA, lot 293 Feminism, lot 295 Che Guevara, and lot 298 Natural Abstractions). The positive surprises in fine photographs and photobooks were as follows (images above via Swann):

Lot 3, Edward S. Curtis, At the Old Well of Ancoma, 1904, estimated at $500-750, sold at $5250

Lot 6, Edward S. Curtis, The North American Indian, Portfolios XIII, XIV, and XV, 1924, 1926, estimated at $4000-6000, sold at $20000

Lot 10, Gustave Le Gray, Portrait of a young woman, 1847-1848, estimated at $4000-6000, sold at $12500

Lot 103, Walker Evans, River Rouge Plant, Detroit, Michigan, 11947, estimated at $15000-25000, sold at $57500

The complete lot by lot results can be found here.

Ansel Adams, Edward Curtis, Gustave Le Gray, Walker Evans, Swann Auction Galleries

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